When Mike Tomlin and the Steelers decided not to renew the contract of former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians -- a key Ben Roethlisberger ally who had saved Arians' job at least once -- and bring in Todd Haley instead, Pittsburgh probably expected better than the 16th-best offense in the league.
But by averaging 360.6 yards and 23.2 points per game (17th in the NFL), that's exactly what the Steelers have gotten. Hey, it's not terrible but it's not good either.
So, what's going on?
One, the running game is the worst in the league, and not even the return of Rashard Mendenhall has helped much (plus, he's not playing this week). Two, the Steelers don't seem to have that explosive element that would allow them to score numerous points in a short amount of time (the team, though, is No. 2 in the league in time of possession).
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey asked Roethlisberger if there was room to add bigger, more explosive plays.
“Haley's offense is not a big-play offense,” he said. “It's kind of a dink-and-dunk offense.”
Hmm, that doesn't sound especially positive. To be fair, Roethlisberger apparently didn't say that with any malice or sarcasm or ire toward the man who replaced Arians. But the interview continued.
Starkey: “Is there room for more quick strikes?”
Roethlisberger: “We did that last week [82-yard pass to Mike Wallace].”
Me: “Right, but you never went back to it.”
Ben: “There's a guy calling the plays. That's on him.”
Later, Roethlisberger tried to clarify: “Sometimes, we'll call something long, and it's just not there,” he said. “For us, the big thing is that when we get into the red zone, we don't get complicated. We need to finish drives.”
Not many could have expected the transition from an offense in which Roethlisberger was comfortable into a new Haley-led offense to go smoothly in the first year. But the Steelers are 2-3, and considering Pittsburgh's defense is top-five, it's time for the offense to start producing.
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